Friends of Roman Cats, a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization presents a 12 day educational tour of Italy from October 9 until Oct 20, 2014. The tour will combine some of the best of Italian cultural sites with some of its most interesting community cat areas. We will meet wonderful people and groups who do cat rescue and see how Italians are carrying out the mandate of their national No-Kill law.

All profits from the trip will go to FORC’s programs to help with spay-neuter of Italy’s free-ranging cats.

Day 1 / October 8, Depart for Venice’s Marco Polo Airport.
If you are flying from the United States you may contact our travel agent for an airfare quote. It is important we all arrive within a period of several hours if at all possible.

Day 2 / October 9, Venice
Arrival at Marco Polo Airport in Venice. Susan Wheeler, your tour conductor and a representative of the local tour agency, will meet you. If your trip was coordinated with our California Tourist Agency, if you arrive within a few hours of most of the group, you will transfer by private motor launch to our hotel (Belle Époque or similar) in the city center. If you arrive by some other means of transport or at an earlier or later time you will be responsible for reaching the hotel on your own. You may consult with Susan on this. There will be leisure time to explore Venice on your own. Dinner is on your own. (Overnight at hotel)

Day 3 / October 10, Venice
Breakfast at hotel and orientation with Susan. You will be given your 2 day pass to ride the Venetian public transport system (vaporetto, buses). Then you will meet with a licensed, English-speaking guide for a 2 hour tour of the city. At the end of the tour take a brief lunch on your own, then walk to the beautiful square in front of the gothic church of Saint Giovanni e Paolo. Under the statue of the Condotere Bartolomeo Colleoni meet a representative from DINGO, the Venetian group that has been caring for Venice’s stray cats since the late 1960s. Learn why cats are so appreciated by the Venetians. Visit the cat colony the lives in the nearby hospital. Afternoon is free to find more cats and explore this fabulous city. Return to hotel and meet for a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. (Hotel, breakfast, dinner)

Day 4 / October 11 Venice.
Breakfast at hotel. After breakfast the group will take a water taxi to Venice’s Lido island. There we will transfer to a local bus and go to the ancient, picturesque town of Malamocco. We will walk through the town to the DINGO cat shelter (Il Gatle), meet the cats and some of the dedicated people who care for them. Lunch is on your own. Return by bus to St Elizabeta and back to Venice’s main island. Afternoon to explore Venice, visit a museum or go to the islands of Murano (Venetian glass) or Burano (lace making). Dinner is on your own. (Hotel, breakfast)

Day 5 / October 12, Venice, Padua, Montecatni Terme
Hotel breakfast and checkout. Transfer by water taxi to Piazzale Roma where we will board our private tour bus. We will leave Venice and travel the short distance to Padua where, with Susan, we will visit the magnificent Basilica of St Anthony of Padua, and then walk to Piazza delle Erbe with its colorful market. We will visit the neoclassical Cafe Pedrocchi, which has been in business since 1831. Try a delicious vegetable sandwich at the Market. Re-board our bus and drive to Montecatni Terme, a famous spa town. Explore the town, dinner on own. Hotel Byron or similar.

Day 6 / October 13, Montecatni Terme, Florence
Hotel breakfast, checkout. After checkout we will meet with some representatives of the group CATS Onlus who work to spay / neuter and care for the free-ranging cats in the area. We will board our bus to see some of the places CATS Onlus cares for cats. We will visit a cheese factory where mozzarella is made and meet its resident cat. We will also visit the famous Slit Chocolate establishment and sample some of their delicious confections. After lunch we will board our bus and drive to Florence where we will check in at Hotel Balestri or similar hotel. Rest of the afternoon free or go with Susan to start exploring this fabulous city. Dinner is on your own. (hotel, breakfast)

Day 7 / October 14, Florence
After breakfast at the hotel, we will board our bus and drive to Piazzale Michelangelo for a beautiful view of Florence, then go to the nearby early Renaissance church of San Miniato to visit its cemetery and see its small sterilized cat colony (once much larger). As we will also see in Rome, cemeteries are favorite places for stray cats to gather. We will return to our bus and park near the Boboli Gardens. At the entrance to the Pit Palace (a Medici residence) we will meet some of the local people who care for Florence’s stray cats including Tea` Vianello who has fed the Boboli cats for many years. We will enter the Boboli Gardens and go behind the hedges to meet the cats that live there. After leaving the Boboli Gardens, we will get a quick lunch on our own, then in the afternoon meet up with our English- speaking guide for a 4hour walking tour of Florence’s historical center. It will end with a visit to the Accademia Galleria to see the original statue of Michelangelo’s David. Dinner is on your own, night at hotel Balesat or similar. (hotel, breakfast)

Day 8 / October 15, Florence, Bagno a Ripoli, Siena
After hotel breakfast and checkout, we will meet with one of the volunteers of the cat welfare group, Amici del Mondo Animale. We will board our bus and Luciano will guide us through the beautiful Tuscan countryside to AMA’s cat shelter, built in one corner of the estate of a generous Countess. We will visit the shelter and weather permitting have refreshments with members of this dedicated group. Then re-board our bus and after a quick lunch, proceed to Siena, one of Italy’s most lovely towns. Check into Hotel Chiuserelli or similar. After settling in, we will meet with our English-speaking local guide who will give us a 3 hour walking tour of Siena. We will visit the Piazza del Campo where the famous Palio horse race is run each year, the beautiful cathedral and the house of St Catherine of Siena. Dinner is on your own, overnight at hotel. (hotel, breakfast)

Day 9 / October 16, Siena, San Gimignano, Siena
After your hotel breakfast, board our bus for an excursion to San Gimignano, known as the “City of Towers”. Explore this fabulous town on your own (make certain to stop for some of the best ice cream you have ever eaten) Re-board your bus and drive through the beautiful Chiant countryside. We will visit one of this region’s wineries then return to Siena and visit a great cat group, A Mici Miei. We will see the small shelter the city has given them and hear about their work spaying and neutering the stray cats of Siena. Dinner at leisure and overnight in hotel. (hotel, breakfast)

Day 10 / October 17, Siena, Rome
Breakfast at hotel, check out, board our private coach and head for Rome. (280k – 3hrs) Go to hotel, Hotel Priscilla or similar. After lunch on own meet our private coach for a 4 hour visit to the Pyramid of Caius Cestus and the Protestant Cemetery (where the Romantic poets Keats and Shelly are buried) Meet the cat colony here, known locally as the Guardians of the Dead. They are cared for by a multi-national group of volunteers headed by Matilda Talli. Return to our hotel. Dinner on own. Overnight at hotel. (hotel, breakfast)

Day 11 / October 18, Rome
After breakfast we will board our bus and go to the Colosseum where we will meet our local guide for a city tour of the Colosseum, the Roman Forums, the Triumphal Arches of Constantine and Titus and the Pantheon. Lunch on own, then go with Susan to visit the famous Roman Cat Sanctuary, Torre Argentina. After visiting the cats you can proceed with Susan to visit Piazza Navona to see Bernini’s famous Fountain of the 4 Rivers. Dinner on your own, overnight at hotel.

Day 12 / October 19, Rome
Day at leisure for more exploration in Rome. If there is enough interest, we can arrange an optional trip to visit Vatican City, to visit its museums including the Sistine Chapel. Depending on your interests, Susan will suggest other sights to visit including museums and good shopping areas. Farewell dinner at a local restaurant and overnight at hotel.

Day 13 / October 20, fight home or on to your next destination.
Breakfast at hotel. Check out and group transfer by private coach to Rome’s Fumicino airport in time to catch your fights.
Tour Package price: land fare USD $3,460 double occupancy (minimum 12 people including the group leader) The above price includes a $250 tax-deductible donation to Friends of Roman Cats (made out separately) which will be divided among the cat groups we visit. There is a single supplement of $700.

We recommend arranging your fights through our local travel agent so as to arrive in Venice as close together as possible.

The price includes:

3 nights in a three star hotel in Venice, double occupancy, Hotel Belle Époque or similar

1 night in a three star hotel in Montecatni Terme, double-occupancy, Hotel Byron or similar

2 nights in a three star hotel in Florence, double-occupancy, Hotel Balestri or similar

2 nights in a three star hotel in Siena, double-occupancy, Hotel Chiusarelli or similar

3 nights in a three star hotel in Rome, double occupancy, Hotel Priscella or similar

Breakfast each day at hotels

Tour leader (FORC President Susan Wheeler)
English-speaking local guides where noted.

Private, air-conditioned motor coach

Single transfer from and to airports at the beginning and end of tour.

48-hour vaporetto pass in Venice

2 dinners with wine, mineral water or non-alcoholic beverages

Several informal lunches with cat groups

Wine tasting and lunch in Chiant

Portage of one suitcase

Group transfer by motor launch from Venice hotel to Piazzale Roma to meet private bus

Visit to cheese factory

Hotel taxes

Entrance fees with sites mentioned with local guides, and when mentioned

Optional Vatican / Sistine Chapel / St Peter’s visit including coach pick up at hotel, and English speaking guide $125 per person based on 8 people.
Items not included in price:
Cost, excess baggage cost, or trip
Travel insurance, which is mandatory. If you refuse to purchase insurance, we must have it in writing that you take full responsibility for any loss. Also not included are special services such as room service, telephone calls, hotel internet (unless offered as a courtesy by the hotel),
medical treatment / expenses.
Tips and gratuities to the bus driver, local guides are not included so please bring extra to tip.

Reminder: Pack lightly. You are responsible for any luggage beyond 1 suitcase and a carry-on.
Bring comfortable, well-broken-in walking shoes. For fullest enjoyment of the tour we recommend you are able to walk comfortably up to 1 mile. The historic centers of Italian cites aren’t always bus accessible and Venice allows no motor vehicles so we will be walking a lot. If you need to go slower
we can discuss options.
Dates, schedules, program details and costs, though provided in good faith are subject to change and revision. There are risks and uncertainties inherent in any travel tour, including but not limited to the hazards of various modes of transportation, forces of nature, acts or omissions of foreign governments, terrorism, war and insurrection, theft, illness and damage to person or property due to the negligent acts or omissions of tour staff, tour operator, suppliers or others. Friends of Roman Cats is not responsible for personal injury or property damage in connection with the Cats and Culture tour.

Payment terms: 30% deposit at time of booking to 90 days before the tour starts. Balance due 90 days before the tour begins. All checks made out to Travel and sent to Friends of Roman Cats, PO Box 12571, San Francisco, CA 94112. (The checks will not be deposited until we know the tour has enough people to go.)

To get the current price, you should contact us as soon as possible about joining us. All hotels are subject to availability until they have a deposit. Checks are accepted for the down payment the, balance by check or credit card.

Cancellation terms:
10% penalty upon cancellation from time of booking to 90 days prior to tour start date. 20% penalty upon cancellation from 89 to 65 days prior to tour start date.
35% penalty upon cancellation from 64 to 35 days prior to tour start date.
65% penalty upon cancellation from 34 to 20 days prior to tour start date.
100% penalty upon cancellation from 19 to 0 days prior to tour start date.
Rate is determined by group size, thus a rate adjustment will be calculated
if a partial cancellation is made.